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Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Ben Nevis via Ledge Route


Postby Cairngorm creeper » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:18 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis

Date walked: 24/07/2017

Distance: 17.4 km

Ascent: 1638m

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For a while we have been thinking about climbing Ben Nevis via Ledge Route, but found the information given in guidebooks and on forums about the scrambling grade/level of difficulty contridictory and confusing. Further reading and we concluded that the contradictions occur because there are a number of different route options.
A sunny summers day and we decided to go for it, following the instructions for the grade 1/easy scrambling route and WOW! It was totally amazing ! A walk high up into the coires on the north face of Ben Nevis :D then an easy but exposed ridge scramble in one of the best situations in the UK.
IMG_4426.JPG
The route

We started out from the Ben Nevis visitors centre at 07:40 and it was already busy with walkers of all descriptions. The day was set to be sunny and dry, with low wind speeds :D. The day before the met office were forecasting a risk of thunderstorms :( but this had disappeared from the forecast by the morning so we were glad we had not changed our plans.
IMG_4427.JPG
Starting out via the new bridge

As we walked up to the halfway Lochan with the sun beating down on us it was already feeling far too warm and we were looking forward to the cooler aspect of the north face. Despite trudging along the path with the crowds I still enjoyed the views of the morning mist rising off the Mamores.
09:00 We passed the halfway lochan and the many walkers stopping to take a break before the steep zigzags up to Ben Nevis. The path leading round to the north face has benefitted from some restorations (many thanks to the valiant path builders :clap: ) and now has stepping stones over the worst of the bog :) .
As we passed under Carn Dearg there was just one other person in sight, walking a little way behind us. It did not occur to me that she was following us in error until she caught us up, somewhere under Castle Ridge and asked if this path led to the summit :( . We felt rather bad for not realising her mistake earlier, :oops: especially as we have followed people by mistake in the past, :roll: . As we were unsure of what difficulties lay ahead it felt reckless to encourage her to tag along, so we directed her back to the mountain path. I hope if she reads this she will forgive us.
I have to confess our guilt was soon forgotten as we were admiring the magnificent crags of the North Face.
IMG_4428.JPG
Castle Ridge
IMG_4429.JPG

By 10:20 we were below No5 gully
IMG_4431.JPG
No 5 Gully (but we are not going up here)
and all the studying of the route paid off as we worked out which way to go and realised the instructions assumed we be making our approach from the CIC hut so were back to front as we had walked in from the opposite direction. :lol:.
Rather than going up No 5 Gully our route started further along beside the stream that runs from Lochan Coire na Ciste down to the CIC hut. We made our way across to the stream and stopped at the base of a convenient waterfall for an early lunch and too fill water bottles, aware that this may be the last watering hole until we are almost half way down from Ben Nevis summit.
Suitabley refrehed, we could see our route above us, traversing right, under a line of crags, so we headed up to join it.
IMG_4432.JPG
Looking up at our route just below the crags
Initially we followed a path along the edge of a boulder field, then crossed over the boulders, heading up, towards the large grassy ledge that ran beneath crags and the plateau on top of the first tier moonlight gully buttress. Once up on the grassy ledge we were amazed to find ourselves on walking easily along a good path, traversing the rocky north face Ben Nevis :D
IMG_4436.JPG
The path below the crags.

The path led across the top tier of Moonlight Gully Buttress,
IMG_4435.JPG
On top of the first teir of Moonlight Gully Buttress

traversed no 5 Gully
IMG_4437.JPG
Traversing No 5 Gully
IMG_4438.JPG
Looking down the gully
and on past a twisted tower
IMG_4439.JPG
The amazing Twisted Tower
to join up with Ledge Route at the start of the ridge.
IMG_4440.JPG
Perched boulder at the base of the ridge

Whether the route could still be called Ledge Route is debatable as we had just avoided all the ledges :lol:, but this start had cleverly missed out all the early difficulties often associated with Ledge Route including the slippery slabs and the tricky route finding. :clap:. The path was narrow in places but quite stable and wide enough where it crossed the stream in No 5 Gully that you could have stopped to fill water bottles.
The easy bit completed we now had the ridge scramble ahead of us. The first section of ridge, sometimes called the gangway was quite narrow, but there was a bypass path running to the right of it. We didn't take the bypass. The rock was superbly grippy and even on the gangway, the most exposed sections were mainly avoidable.
IMG_4442.JPG
Looking up at the ridge

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TheGangway

IMG_4445.JPG
The Gangway

The little ledge traverse is probabley not avoidable if you choose to do The Gangway , but I'm going to be spoiler for all the people photographed on it, it's not as exposed as it looks and has good handholds all the way along, just a bit of a reach for those with short arms at the end. The hardest part was stepping down on to it, until I ditched the treking poles :lol: :lol:
IMG_4447.JPG
What goes up, must come down

The main ridge was less exposed and the scrambling easier, but the setting remained spectacular.
IMG_4448.JPG
Main Ridge
IMG_4449.JPG
Main Ridge

At the end of the main ridge there we were crossing over loose boulders when the OH dislodged two large rocks. :shock: . As he stopped them with his legs I was imagining badly crushed shins, :( but luckily he was only jostled. At this point we had to decide if we were going to follow the path with leads directly up to Carn Dearg (a subsidiary top of Ben Nevis), or the harder (grade 2) scramble on the final ridge. We have a bad habit of missing out the final sections on Scrambles, :lol: , I'm not sure if it is our nerves or our energy that gives out. But today we decide to go for it :clap: but it was noticeable steeper than the earlier sections
IMG_4453.JPG
Start of the final section

But nothing to difficult until we nearly reached the top where there was a choice between a slight overhang or a clamber over a boulder. Well! himself with longer legs went over the boulder easily :D where as I managed to get stuck straddled across it :crazy: .
IMG_4455.JPG
Stranded and Abandoned

A final push, helped by a few choice words and I was over. Released by the boulder :lol: it was up to the top and across the narrow wall to the flat top of Carn Dearg.
IMG_4456.JPG
Across the wall

IMG_4457.JPG
Jeremy Jetboil insisted on making an appearance for the celebratory photo

We forgot to pay our respects to Carn Dearg summit :oops: but followed the edge of the North Face
IMG_4459.JPG
until we joined the mountain path and the stream of walkers on the way to Ben Nevis.
We felt somewhat over dressed on the busy summit of Ben Nevis where there was a sense of triumph in the air and I am sure we were not the only ones feeling slightly smug at achieving our goal. We found a spot on the edge of summit to have a brew,
IMG_4462.JPG
14:30 Ben Nevis summit

and then made our way down with a spring in our step,
IMG_4460.JPG
The Descent

until my toes and his knees started to groan and at being made to jog down the zig zags :lol: and we continued at a more seemly pace to reach the visitors centre for 17:45.
This really was a fantastic route, especially on such a beautiful day. The navigation would have been more tricky without the excellent visibility and I would recommend anyone thinking of trying it to refer to the route guides in one of the books below, but if you enjoy scrambling and have fine weather it really will wow you :D
Details of the route can be found in :-
Highland Scrambles South - Scottish Mountaineering Club
Scrambles in Lochaber - Noel Williams
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:46 pm

Fantastic :clap: :clap:
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby katyhills » Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:04 pm

Fantastic! You must have been thrilled to get such a good day, and to have such a great walk/climb. The photos are really stunning. :)
Hope the straddling wasn't too painful... :lol: :shock:

So much nicer than just going up the tourist route too, which is pretty depressing. I'm keen to go back and do it by the CMD arete, but the thought of heading back up that first bit is putting me off :oops:
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby arjh » Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:00 pm

Great report. I took a group of teenagers up this way last summer and used the same 'alternative start' to avoid the wet Grade 2 slab. The following link (not my report) contains a photo marked up with this Grade 1-only route (about two thirds of the way down the page) which may be useful for others.

https://ness64.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/ben-nevis-via-ledge-route-and-cmd-arete/
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:17 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Fantastic :clap: :clap:

Thank you, it was a great day
katyhills wrote:Fantastic! You must have been thrilled to get such a good day, and to have such a great walk/climb. The photos are really stunning. :)
Hope the straddling wasn't too painful... :lol: :shock:

So much nicer than just going up the tourist route too, which is pretty depressing. I'm keen to go back and do it by the CMD arete, but the thought of heading back up that first bit is putting me off :oops:

Thank you, we were thrilled :D , one of those day where everything turns out much better than you are expecting.
We keep meaning to do the CMD arete as well, but the steep reascent of Carn Mor Dearg is a bit off putting, I think the North Face carpark may be better.

arjh wrote:Great report. I took a group of teenagers up this way last summer and used the same 'alternative start' to avoid the wet Grade 2 slab. The following link (not my report) contains a photo marked up with this Grade 1-only route (about two thirds of the way down the page) which may be useful for others.

https://ness64.<span%20class="skimlinks-unlinked">wordpress.com/2011/09/20/ben-nevis-via-ledge-route-and-cmd-arete</span>/

Thank you, I bet your group of teenagers had a superb day to remember. Thanks for sharing the report link, very helpful.
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:22 pm

Great stuff. Cracking report, and some really excellent pics. :clap: :clap: :clap:

The North side of the Ben is just so fantastic, I'm amazed anyone uses any other route to the summit. I saw it for the first time "in the flesh" just 4 years ago, and was - I think, quite literally - hyperventilating at the magnificence and scale of it all. Your descent by the standard path will have only served to underline the difference, I imagine.
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby weaselmaster » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:32 am

Enjoyed that. One to try out on a similarly dry, sunny day I think :D
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby gman » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:22 pm

Great report, definitely worth experiencing this side of the Ben. I heard Highland Scrambles South is being updated after concerns about loose rock on some of the Cairngorms routes, Scotland's Mountain Ridges by Dan Bailey has descriptions of a few scrambling & low grade climbing routes on the north face - Ledge Route, Tower Ridge etc.
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby spiderwebb » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:40 pm

Brilliant, the stuff of adventures, and my route up there for definite if I can get a day like yours :D
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby mrssanta » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:37 pm

well done to you that was fantastic!
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:03 am

Alteknacker wrote:Great stuff. Cracking report, and some really excellent pics. :clap: :clap: :clap:

The North side of the Ben is just so fantastic, I'm amazed anyone uses any other route to the summit. I saw it for the first time "in the flesh" just 4 years ago, and was - I think, quite literally - hyperventilating at the magnificence and scale of it all. Your descent by the standard path will have only served to underline the difference, I imagine.


Thank you. The North Face is certainly mouth watering :D and just no comparison to mountain path which is somewhat dull in comparison, but from the crowds and smiles on the summit lots of people were enjoying it 8) .

weaselmaster wrote:Enjoyed that. One to try out on a similarly dry, sunny day I think :D

Pleased you enjoyed it and hope you enjoy the route just as much when you try it. No finer place to be on a fine day :D but I am sure more hairy if wet and windy :crazy:
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:04 am

gman wrote:Great report, definitely worth experiencing this side of the Ben. I heard Highland Scrambles South is being updated after concerns about loose rock on some of the Cairngorms routes, Scotland's Mountain Ridges by Dan Bailey has descriptions of a few scrambling & low grade climbing routes on the north face - Ledge Route, Tower Ridge etc.

Thank you. our Highlands Scrambles Sout is 2017, and mentions some of the loose rock, but I guess this years rockfall must have effected some of the routes even further. I agree If you like Ridges Dan Baileys book is a must, loads of great routes :D hope to do more of them, but we would certainly need ropes and a long day on any of the other North Face routes :lol: .

spiderwebb wrote:Brilliant, the stuff of adventures, and my route up there for definite if I can get a day like yours :D

Thank you, definitely a place for great adventures :D Hope a good day comes your way soon .

mrssanta wrote:well done to you that was fantastic!

Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Mal Grey » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:37 pm

Excellent report, looks great. As do the photos!
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:52 am

Mal Grey wrote:Excellent report, looks great. As do the photos!

Thanks Mal, it was a great day and the sunshine did worked wonders for the photos :lol:
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Re: Ben Nevis via Ledge Route

Postby Sick Kid » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:44 pm

Ooohhhhhhh....that looks seriously good! :D :D :D
Been wanting to do one of the scrambles on Nevis for ages but want a day like you had :wink:
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